LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 5: Nate Diaz applies a choke hold to win by submission against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

I’m not f—in’ surprised.” – Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz can say he isn’t surprised by his dominating win over UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor, but there are many — McGregor included — that were stunned. Here’s a look at the ramifications of those big fights, what’s next for the combatants and what the results mean for UFC.

Nate Diaz

Besides earning the best payday of his career and myriad new fans, Diaz also set himself up for more high-profile fights. New UFC rankings will soon be released, but Diaz should remain the #5 lightweight since his bout with McGregor was at welterweight.

Next up for Diaz could be a title fight with UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, a rematch of their 2014 fight that propelled dos Anjos into a title shot against then-champion Anthony Pettis. The UFC could opt to go forth with McGregor vs. dos Anjos, but that fight seems unnecessary at this point. Diaz beat #6-ranked Michael Johnson in December, and while he is currently ranked fifth, a bit of leap frog to make Diaz vs. dos Anjos the next lightweight title fight would be interesting, though not as much as a needle-mover as other big names. Diaz was basically shut out in that fight, but obviously things have changed considerably.

Pettis is another name that makes sense for Diaz, a fight that could rival the hype of the McGregor/Diaz bout. Pettis, who has dropped two straight fights, is scheduled to fight Edson Barboza next month at UFC 197. If Pettis wins, a fight with Diaz makes complete sense, with the winner getting a shot at dos Anjos and the belt for a second time. UFC 200 makes sense because it will be a huge event featuring a card packed with the biggest names in the UFC. At this point, it’s hard to imagine a UFC 200 card that does not have Nate Diaz on it.

We can also dive into the bag of crazy rumors. Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre was in attendance to see Diaz wreck McGregor, and while he has not committed to a comeback yet, he has been training and the rumors about his return simply won’t go away. GSP already owns a win over Nate’s brother Nick, so how about Nate Diaz vs. GSP at UFC 200? The UFC finally received the message that fans love superfights, and Diaz vs. GSP would be huge.

Diaz set the UFC record for significant strikes against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 141, landing 238 in a unanimous decision win. Cerrone, like Diaz, has no qualms about floating in and out of different weight classes. A rematch between the two at lightweight would be amazing. Neither fighter turns down fights, so it’s completely within the realm of possibility.

Diaz could be matched up with any of the fighters ranked above him in the lightweight division, but I don’t see how UFC books Diaz for a fight that doesn’t have a big name in it next. They’d be throwing away a lot of money in doing so. To borrow a phrase from WWE’s “Authority,” the UFC will do what’s best for business. And that means piggybacking off the amazing performance by Diaz by pairing him up with a big name at UFC 200.


Miesha Tate

There’s no mystery as to who Tate will fight next. UFC president Dana White has already said that Ronda Rousey will be the opponent in Tate’s first title defense, and you can bet that fight will take place at UFC 200, if Rousey agrees to the bout and actually wants to fight in July. Tate has already been beaten badly by Rousey twice, but will the third time be the charm?

Anything with Rousey sells, and that bout sets up rematches with Holm for either fighter. If Rousey isn’t set to face Tate at UFC 200, Holm most certainly will be her opponent. However, if both of those fights fall through, then I would expect Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes to be Tate’s next opponent. Nunes was the #4-ranked bantamweight going into her fight Saturday night, a unanimous decision win over Valentina Shevchenko.

There is also a slim, almost infinitesimal chance that Cat Zingano, the #3-ranked bantamweight fighter gets a shot at Tate. Zingano finished Tate with some brutal strikes back in 2013, the first knockout ever recorded in the UFC women’s bantamweight division. Zingano has the ground game to match Tate, and devastated her with ground and pound in that victory. Tate would love a chance to get her revenge, and Zingano is due to return from injury soon. There would have to be extraordinary circumstances for Zingano to jump right back into a title fight, especially since she’s been injured and her last fight was a lopsided loss to Rousey. But it remains a possibility should the other fights fall apart.


Conor McGregor

McGregor said he is humble in both victory and defeat. Saturday night after the fight he was humble with a qualifier, saying he thought Nate’s weight helped him absorb McGregor’s strikes without going down. McGregor weighed nearly the same as Diaz, so I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean. Conor McGregor did what most champions would not do in taking a fight two weight classes higher than his own, against an opponent with less than two weeks to prepare. All the respect in the world is due to McGregor for that. But Nate Diaz took his best shots, returned fire and then choked him out. Qualifiers are basically excuses, and I don’t know many champs who make them.

Still, McGregor remains the best draw in the UFC, and the loss to Diaz will not change that. He could get dos Anjos next, but as I stated before that seems wholly unnecessary now, the shine of McGregor fighting out of his weight class turned to smudge by Diaz. McGregor said his next fight will likely be back at featherweight where he would defend his title. A rematch with former UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo hasn’t lost any luster, especially after Aldo torched McGregor on Twitter following his loss to Diaz.

UFC 200 would indeed be the destination for that rematch, and McGregor will be on that card even if it’s not against Aldo. You don’t put on one of the biggest events in the history of the promotion without the current face of the organization on the card. The Aldo rematch at UFC 200 makes more sense than ever, as I’m certain UFC brass don’t dare put McGregor in another fight at a higher weight class until he gets another win under his belt. Fans got to see McGregor win against Aldo, but they didn’t get to see a fight.

Frankie Edgar turned down the opportunity to replace dos Anjos at UFC 196 due to injury, but he is the #2-ranked featherweight behind Jose Aldo, and an Edgar/McGregor fight has enormous fan appeal. Edgar has won five straight fights and he’s the former UFC lightweight champion. McGregor says Edgar’s pleas for a title fight carry “a stink of desperation,” but Edgar is more than worthy of a title shot.


Holly Holm

Holm will have to live with the regret of not only losing her title to Miesha Tate, but losing it while seemingly up three rounds to one entering the fifth and final round. Holm claims she let her guard down and was too complacent against Tate, and that could be true. Still, it does nothing to address the huge hole in her game. If a fight gets to the ground, Holm will have difficulty getting up against any of the top women’s bantamweights: Rousey, Tate, Zingano and Nunes.

With Dana White already saying Rousey has first crack at Tate, Holm will need to find another opponent. I find Holm vs. Zingano to be an outstanding matchup, and it would give Holm a chance to rectify her game. Zingano held down Tate in their fight and beat her up en route to victory. Holm would again need to defend against the takedown and prove she can get up if taken down. Zingano is a nice style matchup for Holm in that she is very aggressive, which plays into the diverse striking and counter game that is Holm’s best asset. A get-in-line bout with Amanda Nunes makes some sense, though doesn’t have as much appeal as Holm battling Zingano.



The UFC has had an amazing start to 2016, and the next few months of their “Unstoppable” campaign have fans absolutely giddy. UFC 197 will feature the return of Jon Jones, as he tries to win back a belt he never lost against Daniel Cormier. Luke Rockhold put a severe beating on Chris Weidman to win the UFC middleweight title, and they will rematch at UFC 199. Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum will defend his title against Stipe Miocic at UFC 198, and UFC 200 will feature a card jam-packed with the promotion’s biggest stars.

Many people saw the losses by McGregor and Holm as a bad sign for UFC, but with what the organization will have planned over the next few months—and the match-ups the bouts in UFC 196 may have set up—maybe the opposite is true. No matter what you think, everyone can agree the next fights for each of the top names at UFC 196 will be must watch. Stay tuned.

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio has been covering MMA since 2009, mostly in the midwest for He also writes UFC previews for Draft Kings, and is the play-by-play announcer for the XFO, seen on UFC Fight Pass.